PUP Leader says Guatemala cannot be trusted on Referendum

If the referendum on taking the Guatemalan dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherlands is not dead, then it is clearly on life support following recent news that Belize and Guatemala want to proceed together in 2014 and not 2013 as originally agreed. Leader of the People’s United Party (PUP) and the House minority, Francis Fonseca, asked for his views today, said that Guatemala simply cannot be trusted.

Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader:
vlcsnap-2013-05-29-19h53m15s112I’m not hopeful at all as I said earlier.  My best assessment of what will happen would be that we will not have any referendum or referenda in either country in 2014 either.  As I said, I don’t believe Guatemala is serious, but we have to maintain our discussion.  We have to maintain our position, the high ground position that Belize has always maintained.  Let’s see what will happen.  As for the Guatemalan President, they have said consistently that they are only going to go ahead if they are in effect assured of a Yes vote.  That seems to be their position.  So I think that is what he is saying. In their view the conditions are  not there for a Yes vote.  But certainly we do not support, as I said earlier, we do not support amending our National laws to accommodate Guatemala at all. We do not support that.

The PUP has said it will not support any unilateral referendum in Belize on the issue nor a change in the law to remove the 60% threshold for voting as Guatemala has demanded, and the Government has indicated it will not back either proposal. But asked whether the Government is appeasing the Guatemalans despite their obvious reluctance to work with Belize, Fonseca disagreed.

Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader:
To be fair to the Government, I don’t think it’s an appeasement.  As I just said, we maintain our position on those two issues.  One, we will not support any unilateral referendum in Belize.  In other words, if both countries can’t go together, we will not go forward as the Guatemalans have wanted in the past. Certainly, on the other issue of changing our laws, no.  We have said from the very beginning that we should not change our laws.
So I don’t view these latest developments as appeasement.  I think it’s part of the process.  It’s a part of the discussion going forward, and I think Belize has to maintain that position.  I think we have always maintained that position of high ground, regardless of the party in Government, and i think that is what is taking place today. I don’t view it as appeasement.

Internally, the PUP continues its own consultations, Fonseca told PLUS News.

Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader:
Those continue, but are waiting to see where the process will go.  We don’t want to make a decision now, and have to review this entire process a year from now or so.  So we’re following the process, and at the right time we will make that decision. 

Mr Fonseca also reiterated that Guatemala should be punished by the OAS if it uses any offensive material – that is, material promoting Belize as part of Guatemala – during the upcoming OAS Congress in Guatemala City. A formal decision by the Guatemalans on the date of the simultaneous referendum is not long in coming.

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